St. Catherine the Great Martyr 

Orthodox Mission

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With thy virtues, as with the rays of the sun, thou didst enlighten the unbelieving philosophers; and like the most radiant moon shining on those who walk at night, thou didst drive away the darkness of unbelief. Thou didst bring the empress to faith and didst denounce the tyrant, O divinely elect bride. O blessed Catherine, with desire thou didst make haste to the heavenly bridal chamber, to Christ the most comely Bridegroom, and by Him has thou been crowned with a royal crown. Standing with the angels before Him, do thou pray for us who keep thy most honored memory.

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O ye who love the martyrs, raise up an honored chorus in godly manner; honoring the most wise Catherine; for in the arena she preached Christ and trod upon the serpent, putting down the knowledge of the rhetors.

Divine Liturgy in English every Saturday at 9am.

Catechism after Liturgy.

This class is for those preparing for baptism in the Orthodox Church as well as those within to learn more about their Orthodox faith.  

Inquirers most welcome!

St Andrew Russian Orthodox Church

6465 54th Ave. N. St. Petersburg, FL 33709

"If you only knew how great a blessing comes from the Divine Liturgy, then you would collect even the dust from the floor of the church to wash your faces with it..."

St. Gabriel the Confessor and fool for Christ

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His Eminence Nicholas

Metropolitan of Eastern America and New York 

First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia

Christ is in our midst!

 

It has been quite a week.

 

First, let us give thanks to God that we were spared the worst. I trust that we were fervently praying for one another as well as those who suffered the impact of hurricane Ion. 

 

Let us not forget this important lesson: 

 

There were present at that season some that told him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish (Lk 13:1-15).

 

Let us understand and say within ourselves: there, save by the grace of God, go I.

 

Let us thank God for His tender mercies and let us pray that His compassion shine upon those who are in need of it. 

 

Now let us consider these words of St. Paul writes to the Phillipians: For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain (1:21).

 

There is much that can be said in connection with this verse, so much so that we must greatly limit ourselves here. Let us draw our attention to the feast which we celebrate on Friday: the Holy Martyrs Faith, Hope and Love, and their mother Sophia.

 

Now the very names of these martyrs are most instructive and worthy of lengthy contemplation. The mother is Sophia, which means Wisdom, and her daughters are called by the three great virtues: Faith, Hope and Love, which, in short, teaches us that these great daughters are the fruit of wisdom and can in no wise be separated from it. It is also most useful to understand that it is Christ the Lord Who is the Wisdom of God and that true faith in the Son of God produces hope which does not disappoint and flowers in divine love: for this is the commandment of God: to love God and to love one another, for God is love. This is the Wisdom of God.

 

The Holy Martyrs - are they not icons worth venerating, their feats not worthy of emulating? How can they undergo such martyrdom that this faithless generation frequently, sadly, can only regard as fables and not real? But their feats, as incredible as they may seem, are real. Why? Because of their faith in the Son of God. They so believed in Him that they were willing to endure all things, things unimaginable and beyond human strength, all because of the hope of the promise of Him who said: He who endures to the end will be saved; and: I go to prepare a place for you. Because of this their hearts burned with and ardent love for Christ, and they wished to love Him as He loves us: by giving their lives for Him. Thus they radiated joy amid such inexpressible suffering and thanked God for the opportunity to do so.

 

These exploits seem to be unbelievable, inconceivable to modern man, for he has no true faith in Christ and therefore does not really hope in Him. Love of God has waxed cold. Just look at the world around us. The Lord Christ said: If you love me, keep my commandments; and again: Why do you say unto me Lord, Lord and do not do what I say? Because there is no love of God, there is no true spiritual joy in the Holy Spirit. Many think that their supposed joy is of the Holy Spirit, but it is not. It is of a contrary spirit, a spirit of deceit, for they seek their own will in the name of God, all the while despising the will of God. Thus the thanksgiving of modern man, including many who call themselves by the name of Christ, consists of the prayer of the Pharisee: I thank Thee O God that I am not like other men…

 

St. Sophia is the mother of three lovely, very young daughters. She taught them to believe in Christ, to serve Christ, to love Christ. How many of us can say this? We all should - but few do. We teach them by setting the example, by striving to love God and keep His commandments ourselves. This we find difficult, inconvenient, for we do not practice self denial and therefore do not know how to live by faith nor to truly love. 

 

When it came time for them to bear witness to their faith in Christ, for their love of Christ, Wisdom encouraged Faith, Hope and Love, despite their tender years, to not succumb to fear, but to stand fast in their faith, in their love for Christ. She encouraged them. How many of us would be able to encourage our children, even young children, to bear witness, to suffer or even to die for Christ? Would we not falter? Would not our fear not be greater than our faith in God, our love for Christ? Look around, look within! How often we falter! How ofter we yield to the fear of hardship for Christ!

 

Yet Sophia had such faith in Christ and love for her daughters that encouraged them to stand fast, to endure. Why? Because to live is Christ and to die is gain. To deny Christ is eternal death. To confess Him: Eternal Life. Christ is Life. 

 

Does Christ not say: Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up hiscross, and follow me? (Mk 8:34). To live we must die to ourselves and live in, by and for Christ. Thus if we die before we die then when we die we will not die. 

 

This is the Wisdom (Sophia) of God: to have Faith in the Son of God; to place all of our Hope in Him, to Love Him, for He loves us; to give ourselves for Him, as He gave Himself for us.

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Upcoming Services

 

Saturday, October 1         - The Saturday after the Exultation. St. Eumenius of Gortyna. Divine Liturgy in English at 9am. Class. Vigil at 5pm.

 

Sunday, October 2.          - The Sunday after the Exultation. St. Igor of Chernigov. Divine Liturgy at 10am.

Saturday, October 8         - The Venerable Sergius, Bishop of Radonezh. Divine Liturgy in English at 9am. Class. Vigil at 5pm.

 

Sunday, October 9            - The Repose of the Holy Apostle and Evangelist John the Theologian. Divine Liturgy at 10am.

Thursday, October 13       - Vigil at 5pm.

 

Friday, October 14            - The Protection of the Most Holy Mother of God. Divine Liturgy at 9am.

 

Saturday, October 15        - The Hieromartyr Cyprian and Martyr Justina of Nicomedia. Divine Liturgy in English at 9am. Class. Vigil at 5pm.

 

Sunday, October 9            - Hieromartyr Dionysius the Areopagite. Divine Liturgy at 10am.

Reminder: We are concelebrating with Fr. Igor and the faithful of St. Andrew's Russian Orthodox Church, - 6465 54th Ave. N., - St. Petersburg, whose gracious hospitality is ever appreciated.

 

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If you live in the greater Tampa Bay area and are interested in Orthodoxy or would like to help in establishing a traditional Orthodox parish in English

please call 727-239-9186 and leave a message or e-mail me at frstevofl@gmail.com.

I'd love to hear from you! 

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Our Purpose

Fr. Stephen Zaremba

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Most of those who come on Saturday morning also come on Sunday, while others attend other Orthodox parishes on Sundays. Some have relocated from other states and are looking for a spiritual home. We have baptized a few adults after a period of preparation, and have also baptized children born into Orthodox Christian families. Truly God is good to us!

Thanks be to God our community is slowly growing. Since our ways are not God’s ways we are traversing an unexpected path, currently serving at St. Andrew’s Russian Orthodox Church in St. Petersburg. It is proving quite beneficial for both our St. Catherine’s Mission and the St. Andrew’s parish. God’s providence is truly remarkable.

 

First a quick word about St. Andrew’s. It is a Russian speaking community. The church is beautiful, the choir is excellent, the services served properly. While most of the vigil and Sunday Divine Liturgy are celebrated in Church Slavonic, English is used based on attendance. The Epistle and Gospel are always read in English and there is sermon in English. If you are familiar with the Divine Liturgy you will feel very comfortable. Fr. Igor and the parishioners of St. Andrew’s have made us feel quite welcome indeed.

 

On Saturdays we celebrate the Divine Liturgy in English, followed by a Bible Study. This started off as quite a small group but it has been growing so that we usually have about 20 or more stay for our class. Not bad for a Saturday morning!

We are a mission. Our purpose is to make traditional, apostolic Christianity, today known as Orthodoxy, available to those who are seeking it. Many are seeking it not quite knowing what it is. If you are looking for God - look here. If you are looking for stability, where doctrines do not change with the blowing of the wind - look here. If you want to truly learn how to worship in the spirit and truth as taught by the holy Apostles - look here. If you are are not sure just what it is that you are looking for - look here. We don’t make things up as we go and we don’t change with the times. Truth is truth. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.

 

The world is going through a time of considerable turmoil. No one knows what the future holds. The Orthodox Christian Faith has withstood the bloody persecutions of ancient Rome, the tribulation of the Arian, Iconoclastic and other heresies, the onslaught of the Persians and Moslems, Communism and everything else that the Adversary has thrown at us through the centuries. But as our Lord promised, the gates of hell have not prevailed. Regardless of what the future may hold, the Orthodox Faith will remain like bedrock unto the Lord returns.

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Now some may think that Orthodox Christianity is similar to Roman Catholicism. While there may be some external similarities, Roman Catholics and Protestants, with their now 30,000 denominations, are far closer to one another than they are to the Orthodox. While this may seem very wrong, Protestantism is a reaction to Roman Catholicism and as such, while they certainly have different beliefs and solutions, they have the same mindset.

 

Orthodoxy is quite different as it has resisted the temptation to be altered by the philosophy of the day through the centuries. Orthodoxy is what is and has been believed by everyone everywhere from the beginning. No change. No compromise. It is manly - men love it. It is not a soft faith. It challenges each believer. And no, it is not too much for women and children. Orthodoxy is beautiful, full of joy and light, gentleness and compassion. 

 

If you are in the area, we would love to meet you. You can contact me at frstevofl@gmail.com or call or text to 727-239-9186.

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The following was a letter to the Roman Emperor Hadrian (d.138AD) from the Athenian Orator Aristides in which he depicts how the Early Christians lived. This is how Christianity conquered the world. This is how it will do so again...

“The Christians know and trust God…They placate those who oppress them and make them their friends; they do good to their enemies. Their wives are absolutely pure, and their daughters modest. Their men abstain from unlawful marriage and are free from all impurity: If any of them have bondwomen or children, they persuade them to become Christians for the love they have toward them; and when they become so, they call them without distinction brothers…They love one another: They do not refuse to help the widows. They rescue the orphan from him who does him violence. He who has, gives ungrudgingly to him who has not. If they see a stranger; they take him to their dwellings and rejoice over him as over a real brother; for they do not call themselves brothers after the flesh, but after the Spirit and in God…If any one among them is poor and needy; and they do not have food to spare, they fast for two or three days, that they may supply him with necessary food. They scrupulously obey the commands of their Messiah. Every morning and every hour they thank and praise God for His loving-kindness toward them…Because of them there flows forth all the beauty that there is in the world. But the good deeds they do, they do not proclaim in the ears of the multitude, but they take care that no one shall perceive them. Thus they labor to become righteous…Truly, this is a new people and there is something divine in them.”

 
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St Andrew Russian Orthodox Church

6465 54th Ave. N.

St. Petersburg, FL 33709